Wednesday, September 19, 2012


According to the League of American Bicyclist:

2012 State Rankings Released

Adding more excitement to National Bike Month, the League has released its latest Bicycle Friendly States ranking. For the fifth year in a row, Washington continues to lead the nation, with outstanding performance in all categories. Riding the wave of significant bicycle improvements, other states like Colorado and Delaware charged into the Top 10.

Click on the map above to explore the state ranking
“We are encouraged to see significant progress in top states like Washington, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts,” said Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “But, as the scores clearly highlight, there’s much work to be done in critical areas like infrastructure and funding. Overall, we see states — and especially state Departments of Transportation and state legislatures — lagging behind cities and the expectations of local cyclists, despite the many well-documented benefits of a more active lifestyle.”
The 2012 rankings mark the launch of an updated and improved evaluation process. Throughout 2011, the League held Bicycle Friendly America listening sessions across the country to understand the successes and shortcomings of the program.  Based on public input, the Bicycle Friendly State survey was revised to give a clearer picture of a state’s accomplishments and next steps towards becoming more bike-friendly.
Click here (or the image below) to see the rankings and how each state scored in the five evaluation categories.

Even with the revised survey, Washington once again set a high bar in 2012. With support from the highest levels of government, the state leads the nation in creating new bicycle infrastructure and using federal funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects. In 2011, the state passed a safe passing / vulnerable user law, due in no small part to the efforts of the Cascade Bicycle Club and Bicycle Alliance of Washington, which have some of the highest advocacy capacity in the country.
“People in the Pacific Northwest embrace bicycling as part of a lifestyle that honors the environment, healthier living and transportation choices,” said Washington Governor Christine Gregoire. “This title once again confirms that we’re on the right track, supporting bicycling as a transportation option in our communities.”
Also on the right track, Colorado and Delaware rose to #4 and #10 respectively in the 2012 rankings. Colorado exemplifies many of the qualities the League looks for in a bicycle friendly state, including a bicycle commuter mode share that’s more than double the national average, a bike-friendly department of transportation, and a top-notch statewide advocacy group.
Delaware also jumped to #10 thanks to visionary support from top government officials. With dedicated state funding for bicycling projects, Governor Jack Markell and the state departments of Transportation (DelDOT) and Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) are leading the way to create a multi-modal transportation system. And the partnership between state leaders and Bike Delaware, the statewide advocacy group, is a model for other states seeking to become more bike-friendly.
“We welcome our rise in the ranking as recognition of what we are doing to make walkable, bikeable communities a priority in Delaware,” said Governor Jack Markell, who is himself an avid cyclist. ”Trails and bike routes are a part of a vision for a state with interconnected communities. We will continue working to make Delaware an attractive place not only to bike, but to live and work.”
But the BFS program is more than an annual assessment. Throughout the year, League staff work actively with state officials and advocacy leaders to help states identify and implement the programs, policies and campaigns that will improve conditions for bicyclists. While Mississippi placed #38 in this year’s rankings, Melody Moody, executive director of Bike Walk Mississippi, is confident her state won’t be in the bottom tier for long.
“Mississippi is a state typically ranked low in bicycle friendliness, but bicycle advocates across the state are working hard to make these changes, and fast,” Moody said. “Bike Walk Mississippi is working one-on-one with local communities to provide on the ground assistance to connect leaders to tools and resources that can be used to create better and safer infrastructure, policies, plans, and programs.”
Learn more about the BFS program at and stay tuned to the blog for more analysis in coming days.

My Signature

Carolyn Szczepanski
Communications Director

Szczepanski joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bike to Work: Anatomy of an Outfit

To continue with our topic from other posts regarding how to bike to work without the post-ride shine and what to wear, I can post some material about me and how I dress or what kind of bike I take to work, but this blog is also for women, therefore I have obtained permission from one of my hero riders to post one of her interesting reads and here you have it:

I’ve recently received several questions regarding cycling to work and what to wear. One reader also asked about the use of helmets: “I worry about having crazy lines on my head, hair out of shape… any tips or ideas on how to bike to work and not look like it once you walk in the building?”.
Since it’s back to school time (which, for us academics, is the same as back to work time), I thought it would be most appropriate to address these questions now. So here are some tips and suggestions based on my experience of biking to work in my professional clothes and while wearing a helmet. This is mostly geared towards my female readers out there since I’m speaking from my experience, which is rather limited and gender biased. I’d love to hear from the male readers out there who bike to work in their professional clothes… what are your go-to pieces or well-perfected strategies?
(Note: Whether you wear a helmet or not is your decision and should be influenced by the context of the situation. I wear one on all my commutes in my current town because of the lack of bike infrastructure and the often careless interactions between drivers and cyclists on the road. I’m neither advocating for or against helmet use, it is and should be a matter of personal choice.)
Cycling to work - anatomy of an outfit
Warm Weather Bike To Work Outfits:
1. Pattern – In hot weather, I opt for patterned garments that do a nice job of masking sweat stains.
2. Pencil skirts – I wear a lot of skirts and dresses for my professional get-ups and pencil skirts make for surprisingly good bike garments. However, they have to be made of a giving and slightly elasticized material so that there is a slight stretch to the fabric (otherwise they may be a no-go). I prefer these over fuller skirts because they stay in place better and do not blow ‘open’ while pedaling.
3. Heels – the beauty of cycling is that I can wear all of my shoes no matter how impractical for walking because it’s usually pretty easy to bike in them. The only ones I tend to avoid are ones with a very smooth and slippery sole which can sometimes slip off the pedal while cycling.
4. Low bun – a simple and chic ‘professional’ hairdo is the low bun at the nape of your neck. I love this look because it’s easy and quick and works well with a helmet. The helmet stays above the bun and even helps keep the top of your hair smooth and frizz-free (if you’re me, frizz is a constant enemy!) on your ride to work.
5. Bike basket – it really helps to have some kind of bike carrying system to allow you to cart your work bags not on your body. Nothing gives you major back sweat stain like a backpack on a hot day. A front basket, a rear rack, panniers…all of these will ensure that you arrive a little less sweaty and a little less wrinkly at your destination.
bike to work - anatomy of an outfit
6. Dark colors – if you’re not wearing pattern, look for darker colors to hide sweat stains on warm weather days. I also sometimes layer a wicking tank top underneath my blouse or button-down to help absorb sweat before it stains my top layer.
7. Knee length skirts or dresses - because none of my bikes have skirt guards on them, I save my longer skirts or dresses for non-cycling occasions. With fuller skirts, I love ones that are made of heavier material as they tend to blow ‘open’ less as well. This particular skirt’s hemline is trimmed with beading, which functions as a perfect weight for keeping the hem down while cycling. (With time, you come to realize what makes a great cycling item and start unintentionally filling your closet with them.)
8. Flats – as stated above, almost any shoe will do!
9. Braid – Another helmet friendly hairdo option.

perfect helmet hairdos helmet hairdo
On Helmets and Hair:
1. Braids – by far my favorite ‘helmet’ hairdo. The low braid, the ‘Dutch’ braid that wraps around, ‘Heidi’ braids that are bobby pinned in place… all of these take my messy bedhead hair and tame it into a manageable and helmet friendly hairdo. I’ve perused the Internet for inspiration and instructions and taught myself a few quick braid styles that are easy to reconcile with wearing a helmet to work.
2. Helmet - I have a Nutcase helmet (pictured above) that worked well enough but was always a little loose. I recently purchased a Giro helmet that I love because it adjusts to become tighter or looser as needed. I prefer it to the Nutcase because it allows me to adjust it for whatever hairstyle I’m sporting (‘Heidi’ braids need more room than a low ponytail) and it also allows for hat wearing in the colder months.

Winter Cycling - Anantomy of an outfit
Cold Weather Bike To Work Outfits:
1. Layers – my cold weather ‘bike to work’ outfits only differ from my warm weather ones in that I add layers. Layers are great because they allow you to adjust your temperature as your cycling or as the weather changes.
2. Boots – again, any shoes will do. In the colder months, I live in boots. In the dead of winter, I wore these faux fur lined boots along with wool socks (Smartwool are my favorite!) to keep my toes warm even in below freezing temperatures.
3. Skirts – even in the winter, I prefer skirts over pants for work outfits and will opt for tights as a way to keep warm. Sweater tights, insulated tights, or two pairs worn layered have kept me much warmer than a pair of pants might.
4. Bike Basket – although sweating is less of an issue on colder days, I still prefer to carry my work tote in a basket rather than on my back because of all the bulk that comes with winter layers. This way, it’s one less thing that I’ve got on.
5. Braids – fit nicely under a hat and equally nicely under a helmet.

Winter cycling- anatomy of an outfit
6. Helmet – this is my ‘sporty’ Giro helmet that I wore before getting my ‘stylish‘ Giro helmet. I wore this all winter rather than my Nutcase because the adjuster knob in the back allowed me to loosen it to fit over my hat.
7. Down coat – nothing beats a knee-length down coat as a top layer if you bike commute in a cold climate. I biked around town in below freezing temperatures this way.
8. Gloves – I layered two pairs on really cold days.
9. Boots – these leather boots weren’t the warmest option so I’d layer two pairs of wool socks or cashmere socks inside of them. That usually kept my toes nice and toasty enough.
10. Hat – A must under your helmet on colder days. Works well with low braids, low ponytails, or any hairdo you’re willing to redo or touch up at your destination.
There are many bike bloggers out there who commute to work in all seasons and temperatures. I’ve picked up many tricks from them and am grateful for the advice they impart on their sites. They can be found at Girls and Bicycles, Portlandize (for a male perspective!), Let’s Go Ride a BikeLovely Bicycle, and The Julie Blog, just to name a few. These bloggers have inspired me in particular because none lives in a predominantly warm or favorable climate and they continue cycling despite snow or rain year round.
Do you bike to work in your professional clothes? If so, what are some your tried and tested go-to items? How do you make your work wear cycling friendly?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Head Over Heels

Could any of you give an answer to this comment below?
I am a female. A beautiful pair of heels makes me feel just as sexy as the next girl. But, unfortunately, I was born with the type of feet that end up in excruciating pain if I am standing or walking in them for anymore than 15 minutes. Alas, heels are reserved for work, any instances where I know that I’ll be able to sit for a bit, and special occasions that include my birthday, making an ex-boyfriend jealous, and a night at the club where I know I’ll be in VIP.
Hence the reason why I am mystified when I see New York women walking briskly down the sidewalk in their business suits and work outfits, strutting by me in their heels while I walk in my flats, heels tucked away in my purse until I get to work. I’ve always been bewildered at how they can look so comfortable after walking block after block, munching their morning bagel or typing away on their Blackberries. I mean, am I the only woman subject to aching feet and blisters?
Whatever the case may be, what is even more bewildering to me than New York women walking to work in their heels is…
Photo courtesy of
New York women BIKING to work in heels.
This phenomenon raises two bewildering questions for me. If anyone out there is one of these New York (or any city, for that matter) heel-wearing, bike-riding women, feel free to give me some insight to the following:
1) Why the dire need to don your heels while you bike? Why not put on some sneakers or at least cute flats and stash the heels in your bag?
2) Why are you biking to work in the first place? I mean…I get the whole added exercise bit, but…can that bike ride not wait until after work or the weekend? Or is this to save money on that monthly metro card pass…
3) This question might be due to a lack of personal coordination, but how on Earth do you even pedal without getting your heels stuck, missing the pedal all together, or losing a shoe?
No, really, inquiring minds would like to know…
Taken from